On an office door at the United States army's Command and General Staff College someone has scrawled: "You can't see the forest if you burn down all the trees."
Alongside is another titbit of advice to the hundreds of officers studying how to wage a counter-insurgency: "It should be obvious that there is a gigantic difference between defeating an army and running a country."
Fort Leavenworth, a sprawling base on the Missouri River, is in ferment as the army frantically tries to learn the harsh lessons from Iraq. This is the cauldron of a revolution in the US army's psyche. . .
In the words of a colonel at the staff college, officers during the Cold War era were taught what to think. Now they must be taught "how to think".
Critical to the army's hopes is Col Kevin Benson, the head of the School of Advanced Military Studies, also at Fort Leavenworth, which each year picks the army's top 78 majors to train as war-planners. -- US army officers learn harsh lesson in history, London Telegraph, 3 June 2006....
Before we plunge into this column, a little background is in order. The first thing for the reader to understand is where this ill-thought, offensive and dangerous article appeared:
The Small Wars Journal (SWJ) is an electronic journal and website focusing on counter-insurgency. Aside from its online journal, SWJ hosts an accompanying blog and the Small Wars Council discussion board. Other site features include an online reference library, recommended reading and event listings.Contributing authors to SWJ include Gary Anderson, Matt Armstrong, Robert Bunker, Lieutenant General William B. Caldwell, General Martin Dempsey, Thomas Hammes, Jim Gant, Gian Gentile, Robert Haddick, Frank Hoffman, David Kilcullen, Robert Killebrew, Peter Mansoor, William "Mac" McCallister, John Nagl, Malcolm Nance, John Sullivan, Bing West, Paul Yingling and Michael Yon among others.The title Small Wars Journal is a reference to the 1940 Marine Corps Small Wars Manual, which used "small wars" as a catch-all term for unconventional and guerrilla warfare, also encompassing foreign internal defense (FID), military operations other than war (MOOTW) and military operations in urban terrain (MOUT). -- Wikipedia.
To say that the Small Wars Journal is influential in current military thinking circles is an understatement. SWJ has this caveat lector up front:
Small Wars Journal publishes contributed work from across the spectrum of stakeholders in small wars. We look for articles from serious, authentic voices that add richness, breadth and depth to the dialog that too often occurs in cloistered venues. We do not screen articles for conformance with a house view; our only position is that small wars are wicked problems warranting consideration of myriad views before action, to inform what will no doubt be imperfect decisions with significant unintended consequences. On the continuum from paralysis by analysis, to informed action with recognition & maybe mitigation of cascading effects, to bold & ignorant decisiveness, we strive to help our readers find the middle ground.
Next, you need to know who the authors are. First, from the SWJ thumbnail:
Kevin Benson, Ph.D., Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired, is currently a seminar leader at the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He holds a B.S. from the United States Military Academy, an M.S. from The Catholic University of America, an MMAS from the School of Advanced Military Studies and a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. During his career, COL Benson served with the 5th Infantry Division, the 1st Armored Division, the 1st Cavalry Division, the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, XVIII Airborne Corps and Third U.S. Army. He also served as the Director, School of Advanced Military Studies. He works for AECOM.
AECOM is no fly-by night military consultant company:
AECOM Technology Corporation is a professional technical and management support services conglomerate. Ranked in terms of revenue from design projects, the company was the number one design firm for 2010 and 2011 by Engineering News-Record and ranked number one by Architectural Record for 2008. It provides services in the areas of transportation, planning, environmental, energy, water and government. With approximately 45,000 employees in 2012, AECOM is listed at #353 on the Fortune 500 list. The name AECOM is an acronym for Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations and Maintenance. -- Wikipedia.
Retired Colonel Kevin C. M. Benson (USMA, 1977), is currently employed as Senior Analyst for defense policy and business development as AECOM's Seminar leader at the University of Foreign Military & Cultural Studies at Fort Leavenworth.
The School of Advanced Military Studies, of which Benson was Director for 3 years and 10 months from August 2003 to May 2007, educates commanders and general staff officers for US Army divisions and corps as well as officers from other US services and international armies ranging from Great Britain to Egypt.
Benson's last operational job in the U.S. Army was as Director of Plans (J5) for Third US Army/CFLCC (June 2002 to July 2003) where he was, according to his LinkedIn biography, "Director of plans for the initial invasion and occupation of Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom."
A May 2011 graduate of the University of Kansas with a PhD in American history, later that year Benson was named the Summer 2011 Fellow at the Dole Institute where he developed and presented a series of five study seminars on warfare in the 21st century.
And what is the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies where Benson currently works as a seminar leader?
The University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies (UFMCS) at Fort Leavenworth is an Army-directed education, research, and training initiative for Army organizations, joint organizations, and other government agencies.Red Teaming is a structured, iterative process, executed by highly trained, educated, and practiced team members that provides commanders an independent capability to fully explore alternatives to plans, operations, concepts, organizations, and capabilities in the context of the operational environment and from our partners’ and adversaries’ perspectives.UFMCS educates Red Team Leaders, Members, and Practitioners; researches best practices for Red Teaming tactics, techniques, and procedures; and develops a reach-back capability to provide commanders and staffs alternative perspectives. Graduates of Leader and Member courses receive an additional skill identifier (ASI).UFMCS offers four courses of instruction: An 18-week Leaders Course, a 9-week Stop-Gap Leaders Course, a 6-week Members Course, and a 2-week Practitioners Course (no ASI).
"Red Teaming" requires further explanation for the uninitiated:
A red team is a independent group that seeks to challenge an organization in order to improve effectiveness. The general idea of Red Teaming can be described as a bright light we shine on ourselves to expose areas where we can improve effectiveness. This light starts out white for everyone, under the banner of Red Teaming, but it goes through the prism of the particular organization and takes many different forms in its application. Some of these forms are as different as black and white. Sandia National Labs uses teams that attempt malicious entry in both the physical and cyber world, while the intelligence community has teams that speculate about alternative futures and write articles as if they were despotic world leaders. . .The idea of using Red Teams has been around for a long time. Private business such as IBM, and other government agencies like the CIA and Sandia National Labs have long used them to help improve their organization. Red Teams in the military got a boost after a 2003 Defense Science Review Board recommend increasing the use of Red Teams to help guard against the shortcomings that led up to 9-11. Largely in response to 2003 report, the Army stood up its service-level Red Team, the Army Directed Studies Office, in 2004. This was the first service level Red Team and until this year was the largest Red Team in the DoD.One type of Red Teaming can take the form of penetration testers that assess the security of an organization, which is often unaware of the existence of the team or the exact assignment. This type of Red Team provides a more realistic picture of the security readiness than exercises, role playing, or announced assessments. Red team may trigger active controls and countermeasures in effect within a given operational environment.In wargaming, the opposing force (or OPFOR) in a simulated military conflict may be referred to as a red cell (this is a very narrow form of Red Teaming) and may also engage in red team activity, which is used to reveal weaknesses in military readiness. The key theme is that the aggressor is composed of various threat actors, equipment, and techniques that are at least partially unknown by the defenders. The red cell challenges the operations planning by playing the role of a thinking enemy. -- Wikipedia.
A UFMCS-trained Red Team is educated to look at problems from the perspectives of the adversary and our multinational partners, with the goal of identifying alternative strategies. The Red Team provides commanders with critical decision-making expertise during planning and operations. The team’s responsibilities are broad—from challenging planning assumptions to conducting independent analysis to examining courses of action to identifying vulnerabilities.Red Team Leaders are expert in:1. Analyzing complex systems and problems from different perspectives to aid in decision making using models of theory.2. An analysis of the concepts, theories, insights, tools and methodologies of cultural and military anthropology to predict other’s perceptions of our strengths and vulnerabilities.3. Applying critical and creative thinking in the context of the operational environment to fully explore alternatives to plans, operations, concepts, organizations, and capabilities.4. Applying advanced analytical skills and techniques at tactical level through strategic level and develop products supporting command decision making and operational execution. -- Wikipedia.
The UFMCS Red Teaming handbook is found here.
Benson, in short, is no lightweight in his circles, although the same cannot be said about his thinking, but more of that in a moment. First, a bit about his co-author:
(I'm leaving the picture out)Jennifer Weber is an Associate Professor of History (Ph.D. Princeton, 2003) at the University of Kansas. Jennifer Weber specializes in the Civil War, especially the seams where political, social, and military history meet. She has active interests as well in Abraham Lincoln, the 19th century U.S., war and society, and the American presidency. Her first book, Copperheads (Oxford University Press, 2006), about the antiwar movement in the Civil War North, was widely reviewed and has become a highly regarded study of Civil War politics and society. Professor Weber is committed to reaching out to the general public and to young people in her work. Summer's Bloodiest Days (National Geographic), is a children's book about the Battle of Gettysburg and its aftermath. The National Council for Social Studies in 2011 named Bloodiest Days a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. Dr. Weber is very active in the field of Lincoln studies. She has spoken extensively around the country on Lincoln, politics, and other aspects of the Civil War. -- SWJ thumbnail bio.That's it for the background, here's what these two big brains wrought -- Full Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: A “Vision” of the Future.
Not to put too fine a point on such an article, Small Wars Journal helpfully included this at the end for a link: "Related Content: A Knife into the Heart of the Confederacy: How General Sherman’s Georgia and Carolinas Campaign Helped Empty Southern Hearts and Minds of the Will to Wage Insurrection."
At least some wag at SWJ understands the bloody road down which this article points.
The reactions of SWJ readers were not universal acclamations of approval. Here's one:
I'm leaving the comments out, they're all at the article link.
As one retired military guy I talked to said, "This is the ultimate mission creep. The Pentagon bright boys understand that we're not going to have the money anymore to project force overseas so they're planning to fight in the one place that doesn't require it: 'the Homeland', which is a damned socialist term anyway."
What strikes me is that this retired big-brain colonel has so little grasp of reality that he should choose the Tea Parties and "extremist militias" for his offensive action scenario. I guess it must be true what folks have been saying for some time -- that white Christian "bitter clingers" are the only politically correct evil enemy anymore.
Benson touches only tangentially on the National Command Authority's principal problem in his scenario:
Once the Fifth Army commander determines he has a complete picture of activity within the town and especially of the insurrectionists’ patterns of behavior, deployment of combat, combat support and combat service support forces will begin from Forts Bragg and Stewart, and Camp Lejuene. Commanders will need to consider how the insurrectionists will respond. Soldiers and Marines involved in this operation, and especially their families will be subject to electronic mail, Facebook messages, Twitters, and all manner of information and source of pressure. Given that Soldiers and Marines stationed at Forts Bragg and Stewart as well as Camp Lejuene live relatively nearby and that many come from this region, chances are they will know someone who lives in or near Darlington. Countering Al Qaeda web-based propaganda is one thing, countering domestic information bombardments is another effort entirely.
Yet Benson seems to think that individual troop morale is his only problem. He ought to be wondering whether his orders will be obeyed at all, or, more to the point, which way the military's weapons will be aimed.
As ridiculous and faulty-premised as Benson's article is, we must take it seriously. At least some Pentagon planners are considering how to wage "anti-insurrectionary" operations against that class of folks that Obama sneeringly referred to as "the bitter clingers." That such military tyranny would be both a violation of their Constitutional oaths and treason seems not bother Benson and his ilk a whit. Thus, if the Pentagon is going to consider us potential enemies, we must give some thought to the application of Fourth Generation Warfare techniques in righteous self-defense against tyranny.
Now there's a nugget around which Benson can build his next article.Down in the comments section there's a piece by Benson basically saying "Hey, take it easy, we don't mean you."
...Several readers(as in 'a shitload of people')objected to our using the Tea Party in our fictional scenario. We see your point. Understand, though, that you could insert any number of organizations into our scenario in lieu of the Tea Party. The scenario and the response thereto, rather than the specific actors, are the focus of our piece.
You could have used the OWS Black Block, the NBPP(both of which has actually called for violent revolution), others of that type: instead you specifically say tea party. And when called on it throw in this excuse(either for actually figuring the tea party types want this, or to cover your cowardice in not calling it some of these other groups). Yeah, a lot of people have a real problem with that, and if you don't understand why, they you shouldn't be sitting in the position you are.
In a somewhat-connected matter, the Fed and Treasury are 'auditing' some of the gold they hold:
"The calls for audits are saying, 'We don't trust the government for the last 200 years,'" said Ted Truman, a former assistant Treasury secretary and Fed official. He called perennial questions about the country's reserves "the gold bug equivalent of the birther movement."
No, asshole, it's the people saying "We want an audit of our gold that you have in your hands." Which is a perfectly reasonable thing, I'd say. The fact that you clowns have fought it tooth and nail for- years now?- is part of why so many are suspicious.
The final results still might not satisfy some. Paul, the Texas Republican and presidential contender, wants an independent audit of all U.S. gold.
And just why that upsets the Fed and Treasury so damn much, that is a good question.